This is a very useful and delicious way of feasting a lot of people with no last-minute rush.
Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna all lay claim to this sumptuous feast. Various meats are boiled together then served in thick slices with vegetables and spicy sauces like the “salsa verde”- a green sauce from Piedmont given in this recipe. It is also accompanied by a deliciously unusual preserve of whole fruit in a mustard-flavoured syrup. This “mostarda di frutta” is a speciality of Lombardy from Cremona and it can be made at home when the fruit is in season or bought in jars from Italian grocery shops. “Bollito misto”can be seen in all its glory at Fini’s restaurant in Modena, where a great steaming trolley is wheeled to each table for the waiter to carve each customer’s selection from beef, veal, ham. pork, tongue, capon, and the huge sausage-like “zampone” or “cotechino”. Although it is not worth preparing this dish for less than six people because of the quantities involved it can be made very successfully with only three different meats and the left-overs are equally good the next day. I usually use beef, chicken and ham.
1 piece of shin of beef weighing about 1 kilo
1 boiling chicken or a piece of stewing veal
1 ham joint
2 medium onion
1/2 kilo carrot
6 small turnips
1 head celery
salt and 6 black pepper corns
Clean the vegetables and chop into large pieces. Place in a large pan with 2 litres cold water, salt and pepper. When the pan is boiling briskly add the beef, making sure it is covered by the water. One hour later the veal or chicken is put in the pan and more boiling water added if necessary. The ham is usually cooked apart to avoid making the dish too salty. If you are using “zampone” or “cotechino” these too should be cooked alone then added just before serving. Serve cut into thick slices with boiled potatoes and the vegetables and gravy. The “salsa verde” and “mostarda” are handed round the table to be added according to taste.
The remaining strained stock is usually served separately as a clear soup known as “büü” in Piedmont. I buy small ‘cappeletti’ to cook in the stock and serve this soup with freshly-grated Parmesan as a starter.
1 thick slice bread
50 g parsley
2 salted anchovies or 4 fillets
1 clove garlic
1 hard-boiled egg
Soak the bread in vinegar then squeeze out the excess liquid. Pound together the garlic, anchovies and parsley to make a thick paste then incorporate the egg and the bread. I do this in the food processor. Add enough olive oil to make a thick sauce that will be spooned rather than poured and season to taste.